Tibetan Monks Held in Wake of Clashes

2007-12-19
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Tibetan monks. Photo: AFP

KATHMANDU—Chinese authorities in the western Tibetan Autonomous Region have detained two more monks who refused to take part in a political campaign, following clashes between local people and armed police, according to sources in the region.

“Two monks, Naning and Tarphel, were detained recently,” a fellow monk from the Jesho Baikar monastery in Tibet’s Nagchu (in Chinese, Naqu) prefecture said in an interview.

“The monks were forced to sign and endorse criticisms of the Dalai Lama. If anyone chose not sign the document, they had to pay a fine of 10,000 yuan. But these two monks flatly refused to criticize the Dalai Lama, and claimed that they did not have 10,000 yuan,” the monk said. “So they were taken away, and nobody knows where they are detained.”

Hundreds of armed police were drafted into the area following clashes between Tibetans demanding the release of six monks detained over a dispute with a shopkeeper in Baikar (in Chinese, Baiga Shang) in November. Two teenage monks were also detained in connection with the original dispute.

Where the men—identified as Keyu, Damdul, Dorjee, Dakpa, and Tashi, with one monk unidentified—were being held was unknown. The whereabouts of teen monks Yeshi Thokme, 15, and Dhondup Dorjee, 16, were also unknown, sources in the region told RFA’s Tibetan service.

The clashes, during which police fired warning shots, sparked a mass “patriotic re-education” campaign in the region, which usually takes the form of forcing local Tibetans to sign papers denouncing the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, as a “splittist,” meaning a separatist.

Shots fired, campaign launched

Under the pressure of the campaign for reeducation, and investigations into the clashes between Tibetans and Han authorities in Baikar, most of the monks have left the monastery and returned home, leaving it completely deserted.

The Baikar monk added: “The local Tibetans and monks requested that the Chinese authorities allow them to meet those who were detained and also that they re-open the monastery. But the Chinese authorities told the Tibetans that they were authorized to detain and punish those who were arrested. If anyone stood in their support, they would be held responsible for connivance.”

No comment from authorities was available.

Local residents said the monastery remained deserted after the incident.

“Under the pressure of the campaign for reeducation, and investigations into the clashes between Tibetans and Han authorities in Baikar, most of the monks have left the monastery and returned home, leaving it completely deserted,” a Tibetan formerly employed at the monastery said.

“There used to be about 200 monks. On Dec. 7, a group of 34 Tibetans went to the Chinese working group to ask for the release of those who were detained and for the monastery to be allowed to return to its daily routine,” the former employee said.

“In response, the officials said that Baikar needs no monks, and that China needs no monks. They also bluntly informed the group that they had no right to appeal in support of those who were detained.”

“Local Tibetans are devastated by the closure of Baikar monastery. This monastery was started by Je Nenten Nyima, a disciple of Je Rinpoche who found the Yellow Hat lama sect,” the Tibetan man added.

The incident followed several months of escalating tensions in traditionally Tibetan areas of what is now western China, with Chinese authorities taking a tougher line against what they regard as ethnic “splittism,” or resistance to Chinese rule in the region.

Original reporting in Kham by Dawa Dolma and Twewang Norbu. RFA Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

Original reporting in Tibetan

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